Local groomers give strays makeovers for free

Married owners work with humane society, give animals a chance



Shop cat Emma, a 10-year-old tabby , sits with co-owner Dani Voorhees on Jan. 15.

ALANA LACKNER, Evergreen managing editor

Dani and Melanie Voorhees, owners of Zelda’s Pet Grooming, find meaning in their purple building downtown. Since they became owners, they have been trying to make a difference for dogs and cats at the local humane society by grooming them for free.

When the Voorhees took over the store Sept. 1, 2017, they also inherited the store’s connection with the Whitman County Humane Society. They were happy to build upon the relationship.

“You wouldn’t necessarily think about how much of a difference a haircut or a bath makes for a dog,” Melanie said. “But when you’re in a bad situation, in a shelter and trying to find a home, it really does make a difference.”

Both owners said seeing the transformation for dogs who get adopted is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

“What was really cool was we got to see this dog they found herding sheep,” Dani said. “When he came in, he was super skinny. We did a treatment on his skin … He comes here now and he’s like triple the size, all muscle, super happy.”

Zelda’s and the Whitman County Humane Society began cooperating when the society didn’t have space for all their stray cats. The previous owner decided to let them stay in the shop, Dani said.

“[Through that], she established a relationship … and said if they ever needed help she would wash the dogs for free,” Dani said. “So we took that concept and started looking at the website and saying, ‘Hey can this dog come in right now?’ ”

Originally, they only groomed dogs when they were adopted, but Dani explained now they’ve taken to grooming them just because they can.

The shop grooms for the humane society at least once a month, Dani said. They groom a lot of dogs in the summer, up to once a week, but they don’t get nearly as many humane society clients in the winter.

“I think our last one was when we had these white pitbulls come in,” Dani said. “Those were really beautiful. One of them actually fell asleep in the tub while it was getting bathed.”

The relationship between Zelda’s and the humane society has even led the couple to adoption on a few occasions.

“We actually met our two dogs because they came in for baths with the humane society,” Dani said.

Zelda’s also grooms dogs for the annual Fur Ball the Whitman County Humane Society puts on, and one of their dogs was a Fur Ball dog up for adoption.

“We shut down the shop a little bit early every year, and we wash all the dogs before the Fur Ball, before they get paraded across the stage,” Melanie said. “We’re always big sponsors and this year and last year we were the Yappy Hour sponsors.”

Both owners feel very grateful to have found a community in the shop.

“Just being able to build relationships with clients and have that support system has been really incredible,” Melanie said. “It’s really funny because we’re just driving down the street and we recognize all the dogs.”

The Voorhees worked with Zelda’s for two years before they got the chance to purchase the business.

“[Dani] was a bather working toward being a groomer,” Melanie said. “We’re married so I was part of the business too even though I didn’t technically work here.”

Dani said the old owner needed help with the electronic elements of owning the business, so Melanie took on the role.

The opportunity to buy the business came suddenly.

“The old owner was talking about moving to the coast and closing the shop,” Dani said. “We had always dreamed about owning this.”

Dani relayed the moment that opportunity had come.

“One day she was sitting in that chair,” — she took a moment to point across the shop —  “and I walked by and she was like, ‘You wanna buy the business?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, we do.’ ”

Now, the Voorhees have developed ethics for the shop. They said they work to make sure that clients, dogs and humans alike, feel comfortable with the way services are handled in their shop.

“We always go by the policy, ‘What if it was my pet?’ ” Dani said.

Zelda’s Pet Grooming is located at 360 S. Grand Ave. They are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. through 4 p.m Saturday.